No doubt, seeing blood in your stool can be frightening. You might be able to see this after you had a bowel movement or through the annual checkup. Of course, you will be startled and even be in a panic when this happens, but take note that blood in your stool does not always mean that you have a serious problem. So to prevent from panicking, know the possible meaning behind the unnecessary blood found in your stool.
Possible Causes of Blood in the Stool
When you see blood in stool, it could mean that a part of your digestive tract is bleeding. There can be instances when the blood amount is few to the point that it can only be detected through the fecal occult test. Sometimes, you can see it in the tissue or toilet bowl. However, when the blood is tarry and black, this means that the bleeding came from organs above the digestive tract. Below are the possible causes of this:
- Esophageal problems. If there are tears in your esophagus or an infection in the varicose veins, you will experience severe blood loss.
- Cancer or polyps. If you are not aware of polyps, it happens when there are benign growths that can result in bleeding or worse, cancer. Cancer-related to this is colorectal cancer that is a result of bleeding. Take note that this bleeding is not noticeable by your naked eye.
- Peptic ulcer. This is an ulcer in which there is an open sore in the lining of your duodenum or stomach, particularly in the small intestine. It can be caused by long-term usage of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Angiodysplasia. In this case, the abdominal blood vessels are the ones bleeding.
- Colitis. It is an inflammation in your colon which is caused by inflammatory bowel disease or other infections.
- Anal fissure. This is made possible if there is a tear or small cut in the tissue lining of your anus, which might appear similar when you have a paper cut or chapped lips.
- Diverticular disease. it is a condition in which there are small pouches in your colon wall. Bleeding and infections can happen rarely, but it can result in blood in the stool.
Once you see blood in your stool, immediately head to your doctor. He or she will then evaluate your condition. If you can provide them with useful information about your health, then that could help in detecting the condition that you have.
For instance, when you have a tarry and black stool, it could mean that you have an ulcer or there is a specific part of your digestive tract that is bleeding. Meanwhile, if the blood found is maroon or red, it means that the problem is located in the lower part of your digestive tract, particularly diverticulitis or hemorrhoids.
The first exam that you will take is a physical exam. Afterward, the doctor may suggest that you undergo any of the following:
This type of test requires the insertion of the endoscope in your mouth to your esophagus and eventually to your duodenum. An endoscope is a tube that has a camera at the end. This tool will help the doctor determine the main source of your bleeding. It can also collect small tissues from your body for further examinations.
This test can tell which part of the digestive tract is bleeding. To be able to do this, the text will remove the contents of your stomach by using a tube. The tube will be inserted in your stomach from your nose. If the tube was not able to get any blood, it means that your bleeding must be done or the infected area is lower down your digestive tract.
In this test, barium, a contract material, will be used to have an x-ray of your digestive tract. This material can be swallowed or directly inserted to your rectum.
If you prefer this test, the doctor will inject a special dye to your vein. Then, your veins will be visible to the x-ray or CT scan. The dye will help see the location of the infected area.
There are other tests that you can take for diagnosis. The doctor will be the one to decide which one will be the most appropriate for your condition.
There are no accurate signs for blood in the stool. Although there can be instances when you will feel the following:
- Weight loss: This will depend on the length and severity of your bleeding.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Abdominal pain
Take note that once these signs appear, you should immediately head to your doctor, most especially when there is already blood in your stool.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to treat this condition. The doctor might inject some chemicals to the main source of bleeding. He or she can also treat the condition by using a laser or electric current. Other doctors even use a clip or band to close the said bleeding vessel.
The doctor will then decide to treat the signs associated with the ailment. So expect that you will be advised to take medications like antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. In worst cases, the doctor might recommend that you undergo surgery if you have cancer or polyps.
Basically, the treatment will depend on the condition that you have. The more severe it is, the more intense treatment is needed. Either way, you do not have to be bothered so much as it can be treated once it is already diagnosed.
If you are afraid of having this ailment, make sure that you keep a high-fiber diet. This will relieve constipation that can lead to blood in the stool. You can also avoid sitting in hot or warm baths.
All in all, blood in the stool can mean a lot of things. So the best way that you can do is immediately head to your doctor, ask for a diagnosis, and treat the condition immediately.